Colossians 2:8 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
The Apostle Paul had a knack of getting right to the heart of the matter fairly quickly in his letters. In Corinthians, he points out the offense that is allowed in the church, passively non-confrontational, and the hurt it will cause. He was given the Spirit-led wisdom to see the root of the heresy, the false doctrine, and those causing the division.
Our enemy has not changed his tactics in these many centuries since Paul walked the earth. God has given us men willing to stand and expose the error, point us in the right direction, and realign us with our Savior. Satan has studied humankind for thousands of years and knows what it is we will follow away from God.
In our RU Recovery program, one of the most useful tools we teach is to dissect and define. In it, we take words that may seem to cloud the true meaning and put them in the simplest terms to expose the truth. Here is what our verse might look like.
Spoil – To plunder, or seize by violence; to corrupt, to cause decay, to mar; to ruin or destroy; to lose the valuable qualities.
Philosophy – the love of wisdom
Vain – empty, worthless, proud of petty things or attainments; showy; false; fruitless
Deceit – fraudulent, to trick
Tradition – the delivery of opinions, doctrines, practices, rites, and customs; handed down through oral communication through the ages.
Rudiments – a first principle or element; the original
Then, you put the verse together using the definitions and see if it aids in gaining a better understanding.
Colossians 2:8 “Beware lest any man spoil (to corrupt you or cause you to lose valuable qualities) you through philosophy (the love of wisdom) and vain (empty, worthless, fruitless) deceit (trickery, lying), after the tradition (opinions, doctrine or teachings) of men, after the rudiments (principles) of the world, and not after Christ.”
Unless we, the church, are aware of that which we subject our minds and our ears, we will fall prey to these things ourselves and begin to teach others the same.
At the heart of the statement “…and not after Christ” speaks to the heart of why we are left here on earth after we get saved. Jesus summed up His ministry in this:
Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
In His parting words to His disciples, Jesus left them with a command:
Acts 1:8 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Worship Him – of course.
Sing His praises – early and often.
Read His Word, pray, attend church, serve, fellowship, visit, and so much more are things we are told are part of what we call the Christian life.
But, to be a witness for Christ is our highest calling. It is the one thing that you and I will NOT be able to do in Heaven. It is the one thing for which we can earn a crown – a reward that I will gladly lay at His feet for it is He that speaks through me to those lost in need of a Savior.
In the application to our passage this morning, God is telling me as a teacher of the Word of God; “Look at the fruit of those you teach. Are they becoming better servants for me in the main thing for which I have called them?”
If my teaching is a delivery of wisdom that falls on ears that do nothing with what I’ve given, then I must change. I must change what I teach; how I teach, or at the very least, show them by example, the desired outcome of my teaching.
Paul warned Timothy:
2 Timothy 4:2-4 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
Pastors, preacher, and teachers; let us take heed to that which given us to do. May we humbly, and honestly look at the fruit of those to whom we give the truth. Would God be pleased with their lives at present? Are they moving in a direction to be a better witness for the Lord Jesus Christ?
Then, moving on to real growth:
2 Timothy 2:2 “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
We’ll have known our success if those we teach, begin to teach others, to teach others. Let us refine what do to reap a fruitful harvest for all eternity!